Bill Stops Notre Dame Reconstruction Innovation

FRIDAY, MAY 31, 2019

The French Senate has passed a bill that would require the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral to be rebuilt to its “last known visual state,” a move that pushes back against proposed innovation for the structure.

The measure was added to a bill that was passed by the National Assembly earlier this month that focused on the expeditated timeline of the proposed reconstruction.

The Background

On the evening of April 15, flames engulfed the more than 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, destroying the spire and nearly two-thirds of the roof.

With the help of about 500 firefighters battling the blaze, the fire was brought under control by the early hours of the following morning, five hours after the outbreak. There were no fatalities in the fire.

There were no initial reports about what had caused the blaze, though police said at the time that it appeared to be accidental and that the cause could be linked to the ongoing 6-million-euro ($6.8 million) renovations. Since then, though, investigators have said they believe an electrical short-circuit is the culprit.

President Emmanuel Macron has specified that he wants the monument to be rebuilt in five years, in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, slated to be held in Paris. To aid this goal, digital 3D scans taken by the late Andrew Tallon of New York’s Vassar College in 2015 are believed to provide the necessary information for fast-track construction.

However, some experts are warning there might not even be enough skilled workers to complete the task.

In addition, there’s anticipated discussion about whether the designs revealed by the images will even be followed, or if more modern construction methods will be used. To go along with this. French Prime Minister Eduoard Phillipe announced a design competition that encouraged architects to create a replacement that was “adapted to the techniques and challenges of our era.”

Since then, several ideas have been revealed, including: Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas proposed a contemporary roof and spire made from Baccarat crystals that would be lit up every evening; French designer Mathieu Lehanneur proposed a golden, fire-like structure; Bratislava-based Vizumatelier proposed a lightweight tower that would shine a beam of light directly upward; Cyprus collaborative architectural studio Kiss The Architect suggested various arches and balls wrapped around a central staircase-type spire; and Paris-based architects Studio NAB have submitted a design proposing a greenhouse and educational apiary to sit upon the damaged landmark.

The Bill

In the most recent move by lawmakers, most of that innovation has been thwarted as Senate members made revisions to the Notre Dame restoration bill that passed the French parliament earlier this month, including one that mandates the cathedral be restored to how it looked right before the fire.

The legislation was introduced in order to allow for the fast-tracking of reconstruction that Macron proposed, however, some other facets were changed as well, including a clause that would give the government the power to override regulations on planning, environmental and heritage protection and public tenders, according to The Local.

The law also dictates that the government create a “public project” to oversee the construction project, overseen by the Ministry of Culture.

The Senate also tweaked the proposed tax break for those who have donated to the cathedral’s reconstruction: The bill initially dated the break to April 16 and the Senate pushed the date back to April 15. The bill says that donations make from that point through Dec. 31 are eligible for a deduction of 75%, up to 1,000 euros.


Tagged categories: Architecture; Churches; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Fire; Government; Laws and litigation; Maintenance + Renovation; Renovation

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